Northland DHB’s latest mobile dental unit (MDU) was officially named Kōtare and blessed yesterday at Tohorā House, making it ready to be put to work for the benefit of Northland children’s oral health far and wide.
The blessing was facilitated by Northland DHB’s Kaumatua Te Ihi Tito and his team. There was also acknowledgement of the great contribution and support that Kaumatua Hare Rihari had given over many years to the oral health service, prior to his recent passing.
After spending time in Kohukohu and Pukenui last week, Northland DHB principal dental officer and oral health advisor, Neil Croucher said he was reminded how essential MDUs are for the region: noting that if they didn’t take oral health services to schools, many children in the region would just miss out.
“We know MDUs work to support our model of care, because we have school age enrolment and treatment completion rates around 90 percent, irrespective of locality.”
Neil thanked and acknowledged Northland DHB for their ongoing commitment to oral health services for children and adolescents in the community, as well as the Hospital Dental Service who provide care to vulnerable children and adults with more complex medical and dental needs.
He also extended his thanks to the oral health teams who travel several hours each day to reach rural and remote communities.
“Our efforts and achievements mean almost all our enrolled children receive timely preventive and restorative services. Achieving good oral health profoundly improves your quality of life.”
Neil explained that a key objective is to make sure all children have pain free, sepsis free, functional and aesthetic dentitions. In achieving this objective a child can function, learn, smile and sleep better which all contribute to raising their self-esteem.
Another key objective of the oral health service is to prevent dental disease in the first place, which he said is a much harder objective to achieve, as most of the contributing and preventive factors for dental decay take place within the home.
He said that there could be a significant and profound preventive benefit from the introduction of water fluoridation, along with a further roll out of our community based supervised school-based fluoride tooth brushing and fluoride varnish programmes.
Neil finished his mihi by acknowledging that a beautiful new MDU doesn’t just appear from nowhere, so he thanked the many people who played a part in making it happen.
A blessing was then offered to all those who will receive and provide oral health care on Kōtare in the years ahead.